The Most Beautiful Green Spaces in Cape Town

Cape Town is located in the Cape Floral Kingdom, and is a biodiversity hotspot. The peninsula is dotted with public parks and nature reserves for everyone to enjoy. The best time of year to visit is during the springtime, when the fynbos and flowers are in bloom. In the peak of summer, hot and dry conditions can lead to wildfires on the mountains, so be sure to check with the SANParks website for the latest conditions.

Stellenberg Ave, Cape Town, 7708, South Africa
Lose yourself in the fantasy of living life on a small estate in the foothills of Table Mountain at Stellenberg Estate. This private garden is exclusively open to the public one weekend each year (usually the first weekend in November) and is worth the visit if you’re traveling to Cape Town during this time. One of the oldest properties in Cape Town, has been called home by several prominent families over the years. Fortunately, despite changes of ownership, the property managed to escape the ‘Victorianization’ many other homes in the region underwent and retains its classic 18th century Cape Dutch feel. The house is off-limits to visitors and that’s okay because the main appeal are the gardens. The estate is divided into different gardens, each with their own unique characteristics: a white garden, a walled garden, a formal medieval garden, an herb garden, and more. After wandering through each of the areas of the storybook home, there is a small corner of the property where they serve refreshments. Both savory finger sandwiches and sweet cakes are offered, along with coffee and hot or cold tea. There is a small entrance fee, but expect no more than R50-R60 ($6). After all the wonderful inspiration the garden provides, you will be tempted to purchase a plant or two as you walk through their nursery before exiting. The Stellenberg Nursery is open to visitors Monday - Friday, 8:30-16:30.
222 Main Rd, Claremont, 7708, South Africa
When you search for “gardens” and “Cape Town,” you will inevitably be directed to the Company’s Garden or world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Sure, those are worth a visit, but for something a little more unique and off the beaten path, vislt the Arderne Gardens. What was once a family’s private estate is now property of the city and one of the finest collections of exotic trees in South Africa. The original owner, an English timber merchant, collected seedlings from all over the world. Six of the trees have now been distinguished for their age and significance by the City of Cape Town as ‘Champion Trees,’ one of the most popular trees being the vast Moreton Bay Fig in this photo. There are a few different areas within the gardens—a great lawn beneath a giant Norfolk Pine, a Japanese inspired koi pond, and one section filled with hydrangea bushes (resembling something straight out of Alice in Wonderland). On any given weekend, you’ll brush past groups of girls in bright orange or maybe turquoise taffeta dresses at the entrance. The gardens are a cultural gathering point for some in the community, and the giant fig is known as the wedding tree, where newlyweds have their photo taken. If you’re looking to escape the chaos and see a hidden gem, Arderne is perfect place for a romantic stroll or afternoon picnic.
19 Queen Victoria St, CBD, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
Many friendly squirrels will greet you while walking through the Company’s Garden, a park and heritage site located in the heart of Cape Town’s City Bowl. This garden, along with Kirstenbosch and Arderne, are the most beautiful green spaces with historical significance in the Western Cape. These particular gardens date back to the 1650’s, when the Dutch utilized the natural spring water running down from Table Mountain to establish a small area for agriculture. Now, City Parks is re-establishing part of the garden as an educational tool. You can bring a picnic or grab a bite at the small Garden Tea Room. There are several museums set on the periphery of the garden, including two of the best rainy day museums: the South African National Gallery and Iziko South Africa Museum & Planetarium.
Victoria Rd, Cape Town, South Africa
The 6km range of mountains jutting out on the Atlantic Coast of Table Mountain are known as the “Twelve Apostles”. The 18 peaks located between Camps Bay and Llandudno make for a very scenic route by which you can travel from Cape Town to Hout Bay. If you have time, continue on all the way down to the Cape Peninsula. The 12 Apostles Hotel, an exclusive, five-star property, is nestled in these mountains. Dine at the on-site restaurant, Azure, where approximately 95% of their ingredients are sourced from the Western Cape. If a meal or overnight stay is beyond the reach of your budget, you can always stop by for a drink or book a spot at their afternoon “Tea by the Sea”.
46 Lighthouse Road
On a short road trip around the tip of the Cape, I’d been fortunate to be shown a lighthouse from the hillside road which runs along the coast. Working my way down to the beach, I eventually found the Kommetjie lighthouse and Slangkop Nature reserve, which form part of the Table Mountain National Park. A short walk along the boardwalk, with the slow setting sun and great weather made for some amazing views with the lighthouse in the background!
Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town, 7735, South Africa
Founded in 1913, this famous botanical garden was the first in the world dedicated to its country’s own flora. The spectacular, 90-acre plant haven forms part of a nature reserve that borders Table Mountain National Park. Besides numerous gardens and forests—some of which you can traverse on high via the futuristic Boomslang (Tree Snake) walkway—Kirstenbosch has a greenhouse, a restaurant run by the popular Moyo group, and a nursery for green thumbs who want to take a piece of the garden home with them. Spend five minutes here and you’ll realize why Kirstenbosch’s displays at the Chelsea Flower Show in London often win gold.
The Company’s Garden, in the heart of the city, dates back to the 17th century, when the Dutch used springwater running down from the mountain to establish a garden to grow fruit and vegetables for ships en route to the East. On Government Avenue, which runs through the garden for about a half mile, squirrels scamper around among the old oak trees. Along the way, you’ll pass the South African National Gallery, the Planetarium, the Holocaust Centre, the De Tuynhuis presidential offices, the South African National Library, St. George’s Cathedral (where Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu used to preach), and the Slave Lodge museum. Grab a bite at the recently opened Company’s Garden Restaurant, which has been getting great reviews for its breakfasts and lunches under the garden’s leafy trees.
40 Boyes Drive
While hiking in Cape Town, there are plenty of moments when you’ll stop for a water break, wipe the sweat from your brow, and ignore those voices inside yourself saying you can’t possibly take another uphill step. This moment is fleeting, however, and always superseded by the lasting memories of when you feel like you’re on top of the world at the end of your hike. Silvermine Nature Reserve is 20 minutes from the city center and the part of Table Mountain National Park that covers the Cape Peninsula near Kalk Bay and Muizenberg. The Echo Valley hike can be approached from the Silvermine entrance on top of Ou Kaapse Weg (one way), or, from the entrance on Boyes Drive in Kalk Bay.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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